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Five Attributes That Drive Innovation

Innovation drives business, organizations and brands’ successes. But why do some innovations spread and others struggle?

Dr. Everett M. Rogers, a renowned expert in innovation diffusions and author of the famous Diffusion of Innovations, reports that there are five perceived attributes of innovations which should be studied when developing innovations.

In his 40-plus year career, Dr. Rogers proved his theories on ideas and innovations as diverse as the laptop, 9/11 attack news, STOP AIDS, electric cars and kindergarten. It’s no surprise that the tipping point idea finds its origins in diffusion theory.

Rogers uses the cell phone to illustrate these perceived attributes of successful innovations (you can probably substitute tablet, hybrid cars and Google for the cell phone):

  1. Relative Advantageis the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes. A main benefit of the cell phone was that it saved an estimated two hours per week, allowing business people to avoid missed appointments and cope with delayed schedules.
  2. Compatibility is the degree to which innovation is perceived as consistent with existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters. A cell phone connects its user with an existing telephone system, and allows the user to talk with anyone who has a regular telephone.
  3. Complexity is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as relatively difficult to understand and use. From a user’s perspective, a cell phone operates exactly the same as a regular phone, and so it wasn’t necessary to learn any new skills.
  4. Triability is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis. A friend’s cell phone could be borrowed for trial use. And in the early 1900s, rental cars often came equipped with a cell phone, which provided a trial innovation for many individuals.
  5. Observability is the degree to which the results of innovation are visible to others. It’s positively related to a rate of adoption. The use of cell phones in cars, restaurants, lobbies, buses and other public places help emphasize their conferral of status on potential buyers.

So as you think about innovations in your life and business, study these attributes and factor them in to help create and spread innovations.

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Eight Leadership Principles From the Pitch

Sir Alex Ferguson retired last May after 26 years in charge of the Manchester United football club. Ferguson may be the most successful coach in history in all of sports. His teams won the English league 13 times and 25 other domestic and international titles.

His methods for success were reported in a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review. They can be broken down into eight leadership principles, ranging from the value of standing back and observing to the specifics of preparing to win:

1. Start with the foundation — When he joined the team, Ferguson created the structure for the long-term by modernizing United’s youth program, establishing two centers of excellence for promising players and by recruiting a number of scouts to bring him top young talent. David Beckham and Ryan Griggs are two of his stellar signings.

2. Dare to rebuild your team — He assembled five distinct league-winning squads and continued to win trophies. Ferguson was guided by a keen sense of the cycle of rebuilding and also sensing players’ lifecycles: how much value they were bringing the team at any point in time.

3. Set high standards and hold everyone to them — He wanted to instill values into his players. More than technical skills, the manager wanted to inspire them to strive to do better and to never give up. Essentially, to make themselves winners.

4. Never, ever, cede control — Ferguson felt you can’t ever lose control, not even when you are dealing with professionals who are all millionaires. If anyone challenged his authority and control, he dealt directly with them.

5. Match the message to the moment — When communicating decisions to his players, he worked hard to tailor his words to the situation. With difficult decisions, he would start with “Look, I might be making a mistake here, but I think it is best for the team today.”

6. Prepare to win — His teams had a knack for pulling out victories in the late stages of games. They practiced for when the going got tough, so they knew what it took to be successful in those situations.

7. Rely on the power of observation — While he delegated direct supervision to others, entrusting them to do their jobs, Ferguson allowed himself to truly observe the players’ performance.

8. Never stop adapting — Whether it was adapting to the higher financial stakes or the use of science in players’ health and improved performance, he was willing to change to sustain success.

Now, those are some simple yet powerful principles from a coach and leadership legend.

What leadership principles foster your organization’s success?

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All Hail the 7 Cs of Communications!

Been doing some old school communications lately, reading postings.

While reviewing Cutlip and Center Effective Public Relations, I fondly rediscovered the immortal 7 Cs of communications.

They are just as relevant today as ever, especially with some of my adaptations. Those who ignore these Cs can masterfully fail at their communications no matter whether it’s mainstream, digital or hybrid:

  1. Credibility — Communication begins in a climate of trust. This climate is based on the performance of the brand or company and its sincere desire to serve its customer. That desire then creates an affinity for a brand or company’s competency.
  2. Context — A communications program must meet the realities of its environment. Daily business activities must validate, not compromise, a brand or company promise.
  3. Content — The message must have meaning and relevance for the audience. Content determines the audience and vice versa.
  4. Clarity — The message must be simple. Words used must have exactly the same meaning to the brand or company as they do to its target audience. Complex messages must be distilled into simpler terms, and the farther a message must travel, the simpler it should be.
  5. Continuity and Consistency — Communications never ends. It requires repetition to achieve understanding. Repetition, with variation, contributes to learning both the facts (the truth) and attitudes.
  6. Channels — Use established channels of communication: channels the audience uses and respects. Creating new channels is difficult in today’s mainstream and social media.
  7. Capability of audience — Communications must take into account the capability of the audience. Communications are most effective when they require the least effort on the part of the audience.

This is good stuff, isn’t it?

How are you using these 7Cs to succeed in your communications?

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